Jerry Snell

Life in the Suicide Riots

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Poet/singer Jerry Snell released his only album in 1992 on the Montreal avant-garde label Ambiances Magnétiques. Supplying his words, he was helped by drummer Michel F. Côté (Bruire, Klaxon Gueule), guitarist Claude Fradette (Locomotive), and saxophonist Claude Vendette (Abbittibbi) for the music. They had worked with Snell for the dance troupe Carbone 14, where Snell's beyond-the-grave screams left an indelible mark. The same raw energy can be found on Life in the Suicide Riot. His words of despair and denunciation fit his gravelly voice. When he whispers, he sounds demented; when he starts screaming, shivers run up and down your spine -- it's actually hard to stay where you are when he starts screaming "Run, you son of a bitch, run." The music can sound very straight at times (the overlong "Preacher Bob"), but it mostly takes the form of either punchy avant-rock songs ("Glory," "Run," "No Alarm Clocks in Heaven") or more atmospheric climates following the inflections of Snell's narration ("A Conversation on Morality, Eternity and Copulation," on a text by Charles Bukowski, and "Edmund Kemper Lives Next Door"). Snell is not a singer: He declaims, whispers, and screams, but does not sing. If his message is not that powerful, his voice rips wallpaper and you can be sure the neighbors will summon you to stop that infernal racket. The overall sound on Life in the Suicide Riots could be compared to André Duchesne's CD Locomotive: rock with a sharp edge. All songs but one are in English.

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